Obesity is one of the most acute health problems of today’s American adolescents. This population group was chosen for an educational program in this area due to the increase in the number of obese people in recent years. Additionally, adolescents often have a low level of health literacy, which can lead to unhealthy behavior. It is also important that modern teenagers are exposed to negative factors of external harm and bad habits, which is an additional risk factor. Thus, the current health promotion program describes an educational intervention aimed at increasing the health iteration of adolescents in the field of preventing the development of obesity.
Obesity is the most acute health issue for the adolescent population group. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that over 20 percent of adolescents aged 12 to 19 are obese in the US (Promoting health, n.d). This aspect, in particular, is associated with the low level of awareness of this group about healthy food options and the possibilities of physical activity. Significantly, there is often a lack of education classes on healthy nutrition in schools (Promoting health, n.d). Additionally, schools often lack an adequate number of options to promote physical activity among adolescents. There are also additional factors that lead to the development of obesity, which include tobacco use, insufficient sleep, and chronic diseases (Promoting health, n.d). All these aspects combined lead to the spread of the problem among US adolescents.
Thus, within the needs assessment for this group, the need for education in the field of nutrition and physical activity to prevent the development of obesity has been identified. The special needs of this group are also the integration of the educational process into the school setting for better involvement of the target group. The preferred learning style is educational classes in a school setting that has the best outcomes for this group (Lee et al., 2019; Psaroudakis et al., 2020). Adewole et al. (2021) note that for adolescents, “their health-promoting behavior is significantly associated with their health literacy” (p. 1). At the same time, health literacy among non-obese adolescents is usually lower than among those who are prone to this condition (Adewole et al., 2021). This aspect identifies the need and readiness of this group for education in this area to prevent the development of obesity.
Obesity for US adolescents is currently a critical health threat. In addition to the fact that more than 20% are obese in this group, there are “5.6% with severe obesity, and another 16.6% are overweight” (Fryar et al., 2018, p. 1). These figures identify the critical spread of this health problem among modern adolescents from 12 to 19 years old. An additional aspect is that in recent years there has been a trend toward the active spread of this problem and an increase in the number of obese people in this group. More specifically, over 40 years, the percentage of obese adolescents has almost doubled, while the percentage of adolescents with severe obesity has increased more than five times (Fryar et al., 2018, p. 4). The problem and deterioration of the situation are especially acute for the age group from 12 to 19 years.
Obesity in adolescents is associated with several serious health conditions. Ogden et al. (2018) underline that adolescents with severe obesity are more likely to develop cardiovascular disease. Additionally, this group is also at risk of developing hypertension, which is also higher for adolescents with severe obesity (Ogden et al., 2018). The researchers also note that the epidemic development of obesity among adolescents is associated with behavioral and environmental factors, as well as urbanization (Lee et al., 2019; Lee & Yoon, 2018). Thus, adolescents need school-based education about healthy behavior, nutrition, and physical activity to prevent obesity.
The goal of education is to increase the health literacy of adolescents in the area of risk factors and the prevention of obesity. The main measurable indicators are the level of awareness of adolescents about the methods of preventing the disease. In particular, at the end of the lesson, it is necessary to assess knowledge of the key aspects of nutrition and physical activity that were considered. It is important to evaluate how much more information on health behavior is available to adolescents after learning and how they intend to apply it. It is necessary to collect feedback on how adolescents are going to integrate the acquired knowledge into their daily behavior. Education can be considered successful if 50% of teenagers indicate that they would like to develop healthy eating habits and physical activity routines.
Health Promotion Activities
Conducting a learning intervention is most effective for this group in a school or family setting. Thus, to meet the learning needs of adolescents concerning health literacy, it is necessary to organize school classes, as well as prepare materials for self-study for parents. The most effective method of presentation, in this case, taking into account the needs of the group, is to inform about the risk factors and consequences of developing obesity. In particular, it is important to integrate into the education process also the parents of adolescents, who are directly involved in shaping the healthy behavior of children.
The required materials for this educational class are presentations and informational speeches about the risk factors for the disease and methods of its prevention. Within the framework of educational intervention, the goal is to focus not on preventing the development of obesity, but not on the management of an already existing disease. The teaching will thus take place in a school that adolescents are attending. Additional resources are guidelines that can help school administrators also promote healthy behavior within the school setting.
For effective education, it is necessary to create a comfortable and engaging learning environment for teenagers. This group has needs for “growing autonomy, more control over their lives, and independent decision making” (Raufelder & Kulakow, 2021, p. 305). Additionally, to achieve better outcomes, they need to be offered demanding and complex tasks (Sliwka & Klopsch, 2019). Most importantly, the focus should be on combining the traditional instructional approach with the demonstration of real-world application knowledge, as well as digital tools (Sliwka & Klopsch, 2019). Thus, for the learning environment to be effective, it is necessary to integrate the practical application of knowledge into the educational process, for example, through physical activity or nutrition sessions. Additionally, adolescents should be taught how to use digital tools to track their healthy behavior and improve it. For example, one needs to introduce them to calorie counting and nutritional apps, as well as apps to track physical activity.
Thus, the lesson plan includes the following activities:
- Presentation and speech about risk factors for obesity, the consequences of the disease, and methods of prevention;
- The practice of physical activity and proper nutrition, with a focus on demonstrating and applying the knowledge acquired by adolescents;
- Familiarization of adolescents with available applications for monitoring nutrition and physical activity;
- Distribution of obesity prevention materials and guidelines for parents and school administrators;
- Assessment and feedback.
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Dellabella, H. (2019). Treatment approach to adolescent obesity: A clinical update. Endocrinology Today. Web.
Fryar, C. D., Carroll, M. D., & Ogden, C. L. (2018). Prevalence of overweight, obesity, and severe obesity among children and adolescents aged 2–19 years: United States, 1963–1965 through 2015–2016. National Center for Health Statistics. Web.
Lee, E. Y., & Yoon, K. H. (2018). Epidemic obesity in children and adolescents: risk factors and prevention. Frontiers of Medicine, 12, 658-666. Web.
Lee, A., Lo, A., Keung, M., Kwong, C., & Wong, K. K. (2019). Effective health promoting school for better health of children and adolescents: Indicators for success. BMC Public Health, 19, 1-12. Web.
Ogden, C. L., Fryar, C. D., Hales, C. M., Carroll, M. D., Aoki, Y., & Freedman. D. S. (2018). Differences in obesity prevalence by demographics and urbanization in US children and adolescents, 2013-2016. JAMA, 319(23), 2410-2418. Web.
Promoting health for children and adolescents. (n.d). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Web.
Psaroudakis, I., Quattrone, F., Tavoschi, L., De Vita, E., Cervia, S., Biancheri, R., & Lopalco, P. L. (2020). Engaging adolescents in developing health education interventions: A multidisciplinary pilot project. European Journal of Public Health, 30(4), 712-714. Web.
Raufelder, D., & Kulakow, S. (2021). The role of the learning environment in adolescents’ motivational development. Motivation and Emotion, 45(3), 299-312. Web.
Sliwka, A., & Klopsch, B. (2019). Redefining school: Educational spaces for adolescents’ engagement in learning. In H. Jahnke, C. Kramer, & P. Meusburger (eds.), Geographies of schooling (pp. 321-332). Springer. Web.